Measure for Measure


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Angelo, Escalus, and Servants, Justice


ANGELO

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,

Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
fear (v.) 1 frighten, scare, terrify, daunt

And let it keep one shape, till custom make it

Their perch and not their terror.


ESCALUS

                         Ay, but yet

Let us be keen and rather cut a little
keen (adj.) 2 perceptive, sensitive, shrewd

Than fall, and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman,
bruise (v.) 2 crush, smash, destroy
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

Whom I would save, had a most noble father.

Let but your honour know,

Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
strait (adj.) 2 strict, rigorous, scrupulous

That, in the working of your own affections,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

Had time cohered with place or place with wishing,
cohere (v.) agree, accord, hold together

Or that the resolute acting of your blood
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

Could have attained th' effect of your own purpose,
effect (n.) 1 result, end, outcome, fulfilment
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Whether you had not sometime in your life

Erred in this point which now you censure him,
censure (v.) 3 pass judgement on, condemn, pronounce sentence on

And pulled the law upon you.


ANGELO

'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,

Another thing to fall. I not deny,

The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
pass (v.) 17 pass sentence, adjudicate

May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two

Guiltier than him they try; what's open made to justice,

That justice seizes; what knows the laws

That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
pregnant (adj.) 2 obvious, clear, evident

The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't

Because we see it; but what we do not see

We tread upon, and never think of it.

You may not so extenuate his offence
extenuate (v.) mitigate, lessen, tone down

For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
fault (n.) 3 failing, weakness

When I, that censure him, do so offend,
censure (v.) 3 pass judgement on, condemn, pronounce sentence on

Let mine own judgement pattern out my death
pattern out (v.) be a pattern for, act as a precedent for

And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
partial, in with partiality, in a biased manner

Enter Provost


ESCALUS

Be it as your wisdom will.


ANGELO

                         Where is the provost?


PROVOST

Here, if it like your honour.
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness


ANGELO

                         See that Claudio

Be executed by tomorrow morning:

Bring his confessor, let him be prepared;

For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
pilgrimage (n.) journey, passage, voyage

Exit Provost


ESCALUS

Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all.

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:

Some run from brakes of office, and answer none,
brake (n.) 2 entanglement, snare, restriction
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

And some condemned for a fault alone.
fault (n.) 2 mistake, error, blunder

Enter Elbow, Froth, Pompey, Officers


ELBOW

Come, bring them away. If these be good people

in a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses
abuse (n.) 4 corrupt practice, wicked way
commonweal, commonwealth (n.) state, nation, community, body politic

in common houses, I know no law. Bring them away.


ANGELO

How now, sir, what's your name? And what's

the matter?


ELBOW

If it please your honour, I am the poor Duke's

constable, and my name is Elbow. I do lean upon

justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good

honour two notorious benefactors.
benefactor (n.) malapropism for ‘malefactor’


ANGELO

Benefactors? Well, what benefactors are they?

Are they not malefactors?


ELBOW

If it please your honour, I know not well what they

are; but precise villains they are, that I am sure of, and

void of all profanation in the world that good Christians

ought to have.


ESCALUS

This comes off well. Here's a wise officer.
come off (v.) 4 turn out, result


ANGELO

Go to. What quality are they of? Elbow is your
quality (n.) 4 profession, occupation, business

name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?


POMPEY

He cannot, sir. He's out at elbow.
elbow, out at in bad condition


ANGELO

What are you, sir?


ELBOW

He, sir? A tapster, sir, parcel-bawd; one that
parcel-bawd (n.) part-time pimp
tapster (n.) inn waiter, drawer of ale

serves a bad woman, whose house, sir, was, as they say,

plucked down in the suburbs, and now she professes a
profess (v.) 4 make profession of, do as an occupation

hot-house, which I think is a very ill house too.
hot-house (n.) brothel; bath-house
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral


ESCALUS

How know you that?


ELBOW

My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and
detest (v.) 2 malapropism for ‘protest’

your honour –


ESCALUS

How? Thy wife?


ELBOW

Ay, sir, whom I thank heaven is an honest

woman –


ESCALUS

Dost thou detest her therefore?


ELBOW

I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she,

that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity

of her life, for it is a naughty house.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count
naughty (adj.) 1 wicked, evil, vile


ESCALUS

How dost thou know that, constable?


ELBOW

Marry, sir, by my wife, who, if she had been a

woman cardinally given, might have been accused in
cardinally (adv.) malapropism for ‘carnally’

fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.


ESCALUS

By the woman's means?


ELBOW

Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means; but as

she spit in his face, so she defied him.


POMPEY

Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.


ELBOW

Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

man, prove it.


ESCALUS

Do you hear how he misplaces?
misplace (v.) put words in the wrong place


POMPEY

Sir, she came in great with child, and longing –

saving your honour's reverence – for stewed prunes.
stewed prune prostitute, bawd, whore

Sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very

distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit dish, a dish of

some threepence; your honours have seen such dishes;

they are not china dishes, but very good dishes.


ESCALUS

Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.


POMPEY

No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in
pin (n.) 1 trifle, triviality, insignificant amount

the right: but to the point. As I say, this Mistress

Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great-bellied,

and longing, as I said, for prunes, and having

but two in the dish, as I said, Master Froth here, this

very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I

say, paying for them very honestly, for, as you know,

Master Froth, I could not give you threepence again.


FROTH

No, indeed.


POMPEY

Very well: you being then, if you be remembered,

cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes –
foresaid (adj.) aforesaid


FROTH

Ay, so I did, indeed.


POMPEY

Why, very well: I telling you then, if you be

remembered, that such a one and such a one were past

cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very good
wot (v.) 1 learn, know, be told See Topics: Frequency count

diet, as I told you –
diet (n.) 3 therapeutic nutrition, curative regime


FROTH

All this is true.


POMPEY

Why, very well then –


ESCALUS

Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose.
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand

What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to

complain of? Come me to what was done to her.


POMPEY

Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.


ESCALUS

No, sir, nor I mean it not.


POMPEY

Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's

leave. And, I beseech you look into Master Froth here,

sir; a man of fourscore pound a year, whose father died

at Hallowmas. Was't not at Hallowmas, Master Froth?


FROTH

Allhallond Eve.


POMPEY

Why, very well. I hope here be truths. He, sir,

sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir – 'twas in the

Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight to sit,

have you not?


FROTH

I have so, because it is an open room and good for
open (adj.) 1 public, exposed to general view

winter.


POMPEY

Why, very well then. I hope here be truths.


ANGELO

This will last out a night in Russia

When nights are longest there. I'll take my leave,

And leave you to the hearing of the cause,

Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.


ESCALUS

I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count

Exit Angelo

Now, sir, come on. What was done to Elbow's wife,

once more?


POMPEY

Once, sir? There was nothing done to her once.


ELBOW

I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to

my wife.


POMPEY

I beseech your honour, ask me.


ESCALUS

Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?


POMPEY

I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.

Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a

good purpose. Doth your honour mark his face?
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count


ESCALUS

Ay, sir, very well.


POMPEY

Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.


ESCALUS

Well, I do so.


POMPEY

Doth your honour see any harm in his face?


ESCALUS

Why, no.


POMPEY

I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the
supposed (adj.) 3 malapropism for ‘deposed’

worst thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the

worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the

constable's wife any harm? I would know that of your

honour.


ESCALUS

He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?


ELBOW

First, an it like you, the house is a respected
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness
respected (adj.) malapropism for ‘suspected’

house; next, this is a respected fellow, and his mistress

is a respected woman.


POMPEY

By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected

person than any of us all.


ELBOW

Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet. The
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

time is yet to come that she was ever respected with man,

woman, or child.


POMPEY

Sir, she was respected with him before he

married with her.


ESCALUS

Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity? Is

this true?


ELBOW

O thou caitiff, O thou varlet, O thou wicked
caitiff (n.) [sympathetic or contemptuous] miserable wretch, wretched creature

Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
Hannibal (n.) malapropism for ‘cannibal’

to her? If ever I was respected with her, or she with

me, let not your worship think me the poor Duke's

officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or I'll have

mine action of battery on thee.


ESCALUS

If he took you a box o'th' ear, you might have

your action of slander, too.


ELBOW

Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What

is't your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked

caitiff?


ESCALUS

Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count

him that thou wouldst discover, if thou couldst, let him

continue in his courses till thou know'st what they are.
course (n.) 2 habit, custom, practise, normal procedure


ELBOW

Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest,

thou wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee. Thou

art to continue now, thou varlet, thou art to continue.


ESCALUS

Where were you born, friend?


FROTH

Here in Vienna, sir.


ESCALUS

Are you of fourscore pounds a year?


FROTH

Yes, an't please you, sir.


ESCALUS

So. What trade are you of, sir?


POMPHEY

A tapster, a poor widow's tapster.
tapster (n.) inn waiter, drawer of ale


ESCALUS

Your mistress' name?


POMPHEY

Mistress Overdone.


ESCALUS

Hath she had any more than one husband?


POMPEY

Nine, sir. Overdone by the last.


ESCALUS

Nine? Come hither to me, Master Froth.

Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with

tapsters; they will draw you, Master Froth, and you will
draw (v.) 14 empty, drain, exhaust

hang then. Get you gone, and let me hear no more of

you.


FROTH

I thank your worship. For mine own part, I

never come into any room in a taphouse but I am drawn
taphouse, tap-house (n.) tavern, alehouse

in.


ESCALUS

Well, no more of it, Master Froth. Farewell.

Exit Froth

Come you hither to me, Master Tapster. What's your

name, Master Tapster?


POMPEY

Pompey.


ESCALUS

What else?


POMPEY

Bum, sir.


ESCALUS

Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about

you, so that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the

Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count

you colour it in being a tapster, are you not?
colour (v.) 1 disguise, conceal, cloak

Come, tell me true. It shall be the better for you.


POMPEY

Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.


ESCALUS

How would you live, Pompey? By being a

bawd? What do you think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a

lawful trade?


POMPEY

If the law would allow it, sir.


ESCALUS

But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it

shall not be allowed in Vienna.


POMPEY

Does your worship mean to geld and splay all
splay (v.) sterilize, spay

the youth of the city?


ESCALUS

No, Pompey.


POMPEY

Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't

then. If your worship will take order for the drabs and
drab (n.) harlot, slut, whore
order, take make arrangements

the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


ESCALUS

There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you.
order (n.) 1 arrangement, disposition, direction

It is but heading and hanging.
heading (n.) beheading


POMPEY

If you head and hang all that offend that way

but for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a

commission for more heads. If this law hold in Vienna

ten year, I'll rent the fairest house in it after threepence
after (prep.) 2 at the rate of

a bay. If you live to see this come to pass, say Pompey
bay (n.) 5 living area divided off within a house, gable-end

told you so.


ESCALUS

Thank you, good Pompey, and, in requital of
requital (n.) recompense, reward, repayment

your prophecy, hark you: I advise you, let me not find

you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever;

no, not for dwelling where you do. If I do, Pompey, I

shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd Caesar
shrewd (adj.) 1 harsh, hard, severe

to you. In plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you

whipped. So, for this time, Pompey, fare you well.


POMPEY

I thank your worship for your good counsel;

but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better

determine.

Whip me? No, no, let carman whip his jade.
carman (n.) carter, carrier, wagoner
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

The valiant heart's not whipped out of his trade.

Exit


ESCALUS

Come hither to me, Master Elbow. Come

hither, master constable. How long have you been in

this place of constable?
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count


ELBOW

Seven year and a half, sir.


ESCALUS

I thought, by your readiness in the office, you
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

had continued in it some time. You say, seven years

together?


ELBOW

And a half, sir.


ESCALUS

Alas, it hath been great pains to you; they do
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

you wrong to put you so oft upon't. Are there not men in

your ward sufficient to serve it?


ELBOW

Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters. As they
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them. I do it

for some piece of money, and go through with all.


ESCALUS

Look you bring me in the names of some six or

seven, the most sufficient of your parish.
sufficient (adj.) able, capable, competent


ELBOW

To your worship's house, sir?


ESCALUS

To my house. Fare you well.

Exit Elbow

What's o'clock, think you?


JUSTICE

Eleven, sir.


ESCALUS

I pray you home to dinner with me.


JUSTICE

I humbly thank you.


ESCALUS

It grieves me for the death of Claudio,

But there's no remedy.


JUSTICE

Lord Angelo is severe.


ESCALUS

                         It is but needful.

Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

But yet poor Claudio; there is no remedy.

Come, sir.

Exeunt

 
  Previous scene     Next scene